Fiction > Voltaire > Candide, or The Optimist
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François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694–1778).  Candide, or The Optimist.  1884.
 
Chapter XXI
Candide and Martin, while thus reasoning with each other, draw near to the coast of France
 
AT length they descried the coast of France, when Candide said to Martin, “Pray, Mr. Martin, were you ever in France?” “Yes, sir,” said Martin, “I have been in several provinces of that kingdom. In some one-half of the people are fools and madmen; in some they are too artful; in others, again, they are in general either very good-natured or very brutal; while in others they affect to be witty; and in all, their ruling passion is love, the next is slander, and the last is to talk nonsense.” “But pray, Mr. Martin, were you ever in Paris?” “Yes, sir, I have been in that city, and it is a place that contains the several species just described. It is a chaos, a confused multitude, where every one seeks for pleasure without being able to find it: at least, as far as I have observed during my short stay in that city. At my arrival I was robbed of all I had in the world by pickpockets and sharpers, at the fair of St. Germain. I was taken up myself for a robber, and confined in prison a whole week, after which I hired myself as corrector to a press, in order to get a little money towards defraying my expenses back to Holland on foot. I knew the whole tribe of scribblers, malcontents, and fanatics. It is said the people of that city are very polite: I believe they may be so.”  1
  “For my part, I have no curiosity to see France,” said Candide. “You may easily conceive, my friend, that after spending a month in El Dorado, I can desire to behold nothing upon earth but Miss Cunegund; I am going to wait for her at Venice. I intend to pass through France in my way to Italy; will you not bear me company?” “With all my heart,” said Martin. “They say Venice is agreeable to none but noble Venetians, but that, nevertheless, strangers are well received there when they have plenty of money. Now I have none, but you have; therefore I will attend you whither you please.” “Now we are upon this subject,” said Candide, “do you think that the earth was originally sea, as we read in that great book which belongs to the captain of the ship?” “I believe nothing of it,” replied Martin, “any more than I do of the many other chimeras which have been related to us for some time past.” “But then to what end,” said Candide, “was the world formed?” “To make us mad,” said Martin. “Are you not surprised,” continued Candide, “at the love which the two girls in the country of the Oreillons had for those two monkeys? You know I have told you the story.” “Surprised!” replied Martin, “not in the least; I see nothing strange in this passion. I have seen so many extraordinary things that there is nothing extraordinary to me now.” “Do you think,” said Candide, “that mankind always massacred each other as they do now? Were they always guilty of lies, fraud, treachery, ingratitude, inconstancy, envy, ambition, and cruelty? Were they always thieves, fools, cowards, gluttons, drunkards, misers, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, and hypocrites?” “Do you believe,” said Martin, “that hawks have always been accustomed to eat pigeons when they came in their way?” “Doubtless,” said Candide. “Well, then,” replied Martin, “if hawks have always had the same nature, why should you pretend that mankind change theirs?” “Oh!” said Candide, “there is a great deal of difference; for free will——” And reasoning thus, they arrived at Bourdeaux.  2
 
 
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